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[xmca] Play: A Really Useful Way to Turn Kids into Cops

I have been reading, inter alia, "Soviet Psychology: A symposium" (1961, Vision: London). It is mostly about Soviet criticisms of the "Two Factor" theory (Gesell's idea that child development could be explained, ultimately, by reference to heredity on the one hand and environment on the other). 
However, there are two articles by A. N. Leontiev. The first one I have read before in an edited version; it is his defense of Lysenko. But the first version I saw read like a confession elicited with a gun to his head. In THIS version he is the one with gun.
"Darwin inaugurated the scientific treatment of these problems. He was interested in the importance of instinct in the life of the species and reached the realization that the development of the species can only be understood by assuming the inheritability of the changes made under the influence of new conditions of life that did not correspond to the existing instincts." (p. 32)
(Really? I thought that was Lamarck. Silly me!) 
"The theories of Morgan, Weissmann and Mendel were much quoted and applied in the Soviet Union until the Central Committe of the Soviet Union passed the resolution of July 4, 1936. this resolution which condemned paedology, i.e. the science of the special psychology of the child, also put an end to the 'two factor theory' which proclaimed the equal role of heredity and environment....' (p. 33)
(No kidding? I thought it put an end to Vygotsky and cultural historical psychology for the next twenty years.) 
"It is even assumed that the most important needs and emotions are immutable in man--as is emphasized by John Dewey." (p. 35)
(Imagine that! Now where exactly does Dewey say this?)
On p. 44 we learn that paedology is based on bourgeois theories which "deny the formative character of education" because they imagine development is based only on the natural abilities of children. 
(Surely we are talking about an extreme form of behaviorism?)
On p. 40 we learn that all attempts to periodize child development are "essentially paedological" and thus "pseudo-scientific". "The solution of this problem was made possible by the investigations, already mentioned, of individual mental processes in the child and by studies of the development of various kinds of child activities--play, learning, work."
(At least Leontiev recognizes that children play and that play has some kind of formative quality, though of course we mustn't imagine for a single moment that play is based on the natural abilities of chldren. Right?)
Not quite. Here is what Leontiev says in "The Intellectual Development of the Child".  
"Creative play is, as a rule, collective. As the roles are distributed, certain definite relations are created between the children which condition their behavior towards each other. The accepted role determines the child's behavior. 'The daughter' 'must obey 'the mother'; 'the mother' must be loving; 'the policeman' strict but courteous. We must not forget that the main thing for the children in these games is action and in particular an action which comes closest to reality. The children always take seriously the content of the actions performed in the play. Therefore, a remark thrown in incidentally is sufficient to direct the behavior of the playing child. it is enough to say, for example: 'Does it really happen that a policeman on duty is uncourteous?', and the quarrel among the playing children subsides." (p. 63). 
Notice how ANL transmogrifies the collective activity into a kind of animate subject ('"the roles are distributed", "certain definite relations are created", the "accepted" role determines the child's behavior). The child has a purely passive role, but never mind: the environment more than makes up the deficit, assuming the active role of a kind of superhero, or super-nanny, or super-cop.
Play is a really useful way to turn kids into cops. No wonder Gunilla Lindqvist hated this stuff. 
David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studiees  
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